Massachusetts Casino Expansion Provides More Questions Than Answers

First Light LogoLet’s look at the facts:

  • The Massachusetts Gaming Commission rejected a license for a commercial casino in the same area after chairman Stephen Crosby said he was underwhelmed by the developer’s plans.
  • An international developer prevailed in his unlikely quest to get a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to demand a second slots parlor in Massachusetts – the same developer who also hopes to revive horse racing at Suffolk Downs — even though the racetrack’s operator does not support his proposal and gave up on the idea of a casino after losing the competition for a casino license three years ago.
  • Profits at Plainridge Park Casino have not lived up to expectations and have been called “underwhelming.”  And don’t look now, but it may be close to not one but two Rhode Island casinos, both with hotels if Newport is moved to Tiverton.
  • Wynn Resorts has fended off a challenge to a key state environmental permit and looks to finally start construction on its nearly $2 billion Boston-area casino and continue the site’s clean-up.
  • MGM Springfield is on it’s way to construction, but won’t be finished until 2019 due to traffic concerns.

So, what the heck is going on with First Light all of a sudden?

According to MATT PITTA, News Director and the AP, a federal ruling could put a roadblock in front of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s plan to build a casino resort in Taunton.  US District Judge William G. Young ruled Thursday in favor of homeowners seeking to block the tribe from building the $1 billion complex saying U.S. Interior Department “lacked the authority” to designate the land as a Native American reservation.

cedric Cromwell of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

cedric Cromwell of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Federally recognized Native American tribes are allowed to build casinos on native land, or land that has been taken into federal trust. Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said “The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been a continuous Tribe descended from the indigenous people who have lived on this land for the past 12,000 years. Furthermore, our tribe was indeed under federal jurisdiction before 1934. We submitted evidence of that with our land-in-trust application.

Cromwell said the issue has now been remanded back to the U.S. Department of Interior and an appeal of the court decision is expected.

This reminds NETG when CT’s three other tribes – Eastern Pequot, Golden Hill Paugussett & Schaghticoke – were not allowed to progress on recognition issues to state legislators, seemingly wanting to preserve the two casinos monopoly and prevent more casinos in the state.

Is this a similar situation.  Again, look at the facts.

Proposed Brockton Casino

Proposed Brockton Casino that was denied the Region C license.

Is Rush Gaming, who is the financial support behind the Wampanoag law suit and the developer for the denied Region C casino in Brockton, acting like a spoiled child feeling entitled to the one casino in that region?  Would the Massachusetts Gaming Commission under Steven Crosby turn to Brockton instead or go with only three casinos, since the MGC’s expectations for gaming in Masssachusetts has already under-performed?  (And the next casino providing revenue won’t be seen for three more years!).  Would it be easier for the MGC to stop at three casinos or four, or five, or God forbid, six with Brockton winning it’s lawsuit, First Light still allowed to build and an additional slot parlor added to Suffolk Downs?   AAAAGHHHH?????

First Light

First Light Resort Casino, Wampanoag Tribe, Taunton

It seems that the stoppage of First Light brings more questions and the possibility for more cut-back of casino expansion.

Later this week we will  what panelists at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States have to say about the already “saturated” northeast gambling situation.

downloadAs the summit in Newton, Mass ends today, we may have telling information about the future from such New England Gaming VIP’s as John Taylor from Twin River Management Group, John Finnemore, senior vice president for Penn Gaming (Hollywood & Plainridge casinos) and Bobby Soper from Mohegan Sun Tribal Authority.

More news on Monday from the National Council of Legislators.  Until then, the Massachusetts Casino Expansion Soap Opera – “The Bold, the Questionable and the Underwhelming,” – continues to delight and entertain us with more questions than answers.

That’s all for now.